Rusty Motorbike took out the Cup and a bloke dressed as Jesus won the novelty dress event, as the village of Louth on the Darling River in western New South Wales celebrated 60 years of racing in August.

Story + Photos Mandy McKeesick

There are accounts of race meetings being held at Louth in the 1880s, but precise records have been lost to history and it wasn’t until 1958 that annual meets were held at the current track. Today, the Louth Races, and the three carnival-like days preceding it, are gaining cult status, with crowds increasing each year and some patrons returning for the 20th time. A few even admit to having seen a horse.

The races are run by a volunteer committee that includes just about everyone in the district, but, with drought feeding of stock taking priority this year, there was less time for traditions such as supplying wood to campers. “Louth is the real deal and we like coming out to support this outback town,” says Melinda Anderson from Terrigal, NSW. Mel and her mates, who were runners-up in the novelty dress, have been returning to Louth for several years. “It’s friendly and chilled and there’s no pressure or pretentions,” she says.

In between the frivolity of the novelty dress and the wool-inspired couture of Fashions on the Field, a seven-race card with $120,000 in prize money attracted trainers and horses from northern and western New South Wales, and Cunnamulla in Queensland. Major sponsor Green Collar joined other supporters from across the state and from as far away as the Clare Valley, SA. The Melbourne Cup even made an appearance with ambassadors John Letts and Mark Budge from the Victorian Racing Club.

This story excerpt is from Issue #122

Outback Magazine: December/January 2019